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Anaerobically Digested Dairy Fiber in Soilless Potting Media for Herbaceous Perennials

DOI: 10.4236/ajps.2016.72028, PP. 288-295

Keywords: Peat Substitution, Substrate, Nursery Crops, Ornamentals, Nutrient Leaching

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Abstract:

Sphagnum peat moss has been a primary component of soilless potting media for decades; however, concerns over the sustainability of harvesting peat have fostered a search for renewable media components. Anaerobically digested dairy fiber (ADDF), a by-product of methane production, shows promise as an alternative to peat. Herbaceous nursery crops including “Jack Frost” brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla I.M. Johnst), “Moonbeam” coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata L.), “Whoops-a-Daisy” Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum Bergmans ex J.W. Ingram), “Kobold Original” liatris (Liatris spicata (L.) Willd.) and “David” phlox (Phlox paniculata L.) were grown in media containing bark-peat-perlite or bark-ADDF-perlite in a 4:2:1 proportion. All leachate was collected from pots to evaluate cumulative nitrogen and phosphate leaching. Brunnera grew to a similar size and quality in both mixes, although brunnera in the bark-ADDF-perlite mix had slightly chlorotic leaf margins. Coreopsis grew to a similar size and quality in both mixes but was slightly etiolated and chlorotic in bark-ADDF-perlite. Shasta daisy grown in bark-ADDF-perlite were larger than those grown in bark-peat-perlite. Both mixes produced similar growth and quality liatris and phlox. More ammonium, nitrate and phosphate were recovered from leachate from bark-ADDF-perlite than from bark-ADDF-perlite.

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